Sexual maturity in kittens
Although kittens do not become adults until they are 8 months old, both males and females become sexually mature at around 6 months.
How to tell if a male cat is sexually mature
The most obvious sign that a male kitten has reached puberty is when he starts to spray urine against upright surfaces. What he is in fact doing is marking his territory to keep other tom cats away. He will also show a strong desire to go outdoors.
If he is allowed outdoors, he will develop a habit of wandering away from home for sometimes days at a time and he will become very aggressive towards any other male cat who gets in the way of him mating with his chosen female.
Signs a female cat is in heat
When a female kitten reaches puberty she will in effect remain “in season” for most of the year until she either falls pregnant or is spayed.
Probably the most noticeable sign a female cat is in heat is that she will start to make an unusual, high pitched meowing noise. This is her mating call and it is quite piercing and distinctive - a totally different type of sound to her usual meow.
She may also become much more affectionate than normal, weaving herself in and out around your legs and rolling on the floor. When you rub her back she may adopt the mating position, by raising her back legs and treading.
As with a male cat, the desire to mate will be very strong and your female cat will constantly look for an opportunity to “escape” outside to fulfill her natural urges.
If you decide not to have your female kitten spayed it will become increasingly difficult to prevent her from becoming pregnant as she grows older and more independent.
At what age can a kitten be neutered?
If you decide that you do not want your female cat to become pregnant, you will need to speak to your veterinary about having her spayed from the age of 4 months onwards. The cost of having a female cat spayed is slightly higher than having a male neutered, but it is a routine operation for a veterinary and is not in any way harmful to your cat.
Having your male kitten neutered before he is six months old will avoid the risk of him getting into the habit of spraying urine around your house. It will also make him less prone to wandering away from home for days at a time and incurring potentially life threatening injuries when the inevitable serious fights occur with other un-neutered males chasing the same female.
Neutering is a relatively quick and simple procedure - particularly in kittens - and the recovery time is swift.